Read Starting from Scratch by Rita Mae Brown Online


From the best-selling author of  Rubyfruit Jungle and  Bingo, here is a writers' manual as provocative,  frank, and funny as her fiction. Unlike most  writers' guides, this one had as much to do with how  writers live as with mastering the tools of their  trade. Rita Mae Brown begins with a very personal  account of her own career, from her days as a young  poet who had wrFrom the best-selling author of  Rubyfruit Jungle and  Bingo, here is a writers' manual as provocative,  frank, and funny as her fiction. Unlike most  writers' guides, this one had as much to do with how  writers live as with mastering the tools of their  trade. Rita Mae Brown begins with a very personal  account of her own career, from her days as a young  poet who had written a novel no publisher wanted  to take a chance on, right up to her recent  adventures as a Hollywood screenwriter. In a sassy style  that makes her outspoken advice as entertaining as  it is useful, she provides straight talk about  paying the rent while maintaining the energy to  write; and dealing with agents, publishers, critics,  and the publicity circus; about pursuingj  ournalisim, academia, or screen-writing; and about rejecting  the Hemingway myth of the hard-living,  hard-drinking genius. In addition Brown, a former teacher or  writing, offers a serious examination of the  writer's tool--language, plotting, characters,  symbolism--plus exercises to sharpen the ear for dialogue,  and a fascinating, annoted reading list of  important works from the seventh century to the late  twentieth....

Title : Starting from Scratch
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780553346305
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Starting from Scratch Reviews

  • Deena
    2019-05-19 01:58

    This is the book that put me off writing fiction, and later helped put me off Rita Mae Brown.It put me off writing fiction because in it, Ms. Brown contends that all writers should know Latin and Greek. I know neither, and as at the time I had great respect for Ms. Brown's writing, I found that intimidating. We could argue that perhaps I did not have the true soul of a fiction writer, if I let such a small thing put me off, but I was young and placed too much faith in the words of the succesful.Later, it helped put me off Ms. Brown altogether. In the final book of hers that I read (I forget which one of the cat books it was), she mis-used the word "impeachment." If she knows so much, surely she should understand the proper use of this term? Her cat series is such a blatant rip-off of Lillian Jackson Braun's far-superior series that it is staggering - the more so from an author who lays claim to integrity.But the final nail in the coffin of my admiration for Ms. Brown was the combination of this pretentious book about writing and the rip-off cat series. Where did the cat learn Latin and Greek? If the cat doesn't need to know those languages (which was Ms. Brown's lame answer when a friend of mine asked that question at a book signing), then why should I? As the rip-off cat series got more lame with each passing title, I gave up altogether. Ms. Brown is, simply, a sell-out. The great promise she showed when she wrote Rubyfruit Jungle and Six of One has fizzled away on the hard road of the search for fame and money. What a shame.

  • Mike
    2019-04-24 02:58

    Rita fired me up and got me going through Homer, Plato, and other classics. The best book for writers about writing I've ever read.

  • Jamie Wildman
    2019-04-24 07:41

    Every writer should read this book.

  • Angela Norton
    2019-04-27 01:51

    Best book ever for people who want to write!

  • Karen GoatKeeper
    2019-04-29 07:57

    I'll admit I do like reading Rita Mae Brown's books which is why I picked this one up. She is very correct that this is not the usual writer's manual. It has no do this, do that. Instead it has lots of advice about things she found helpful as she launched her career.Brown's opinions are direct and definite. Most of them made lots of sense. All of them deserve consideration even if you don't agree with them. And, if you don't, she says why she holds her opinion. Why do you hold yours?Brown advocates four years of Latin. I had four years of Latin and loved it. Do I think everyone should have four years? No. Definitely one for the very reason she gives: Latin forms the basis of over half our vocabulary. Knowing basic Latin helps improve your vocabulary. And good writing depends on a good vocabulary.The end of the book is a reading list. Some of the really old volumes (dating to the 700's) are probably unavailable to me. But I'm thinking I will read as many of them as I can.Why? As Brown advocates, knowledge of literature and vocabulary are essential to being a good writer. And I want to be a good writer.This is a good book to read. It is better as one to read at leisure to give yourself time to think about what Brown has to say.

  • Lin Stepp
    2019-05-15 09:51

    I love Rita Mae Brown's mysteries - especially the Mrs. Murphy ones, where a postmistress's dog and cat help her solve the crimes. So I wanted to read her thoughts on writing. They were certainly different ... and somewhat exacting, like suggesting everyone who wanted to write successfully needs to study Latin first. She tells her own story of writing ... but tends to suggest a background like hers is what any writer needs in order to succeed.... kind of missing the reality that artists and writers are by nature incredibly unique and different one from the other - a part of the aspect of what makes the work unique and individual. .... However, other chapters gave helpful tips on creating dialogue, character, and plot ... and she offers some writing exercises in one chapter and extensive grammatical lessons in another ( a little slow here - but perhaps helpful for many). The funnest part of the book was learning her interesting background and how she got into writing at the beginning of the book.

  • Marshall
    2019-05-01 03:47

    This was one of the first writer's manuals I read, and it left an impression (although not always a good one). Some of Ms. Brown's advice was potent. Study Latin if you're serious about writing, because it teaches you how to think. Yes, absolutely. Yes. And exercise. If you keep your body in good shape, your mind will follow. This is something Haruki Murakami also practices... and so do I. Other points fell short for me, and at times a certain arrogance seemed to be seeping out from between the lines. The standard for books like this is Stephen King's On Writing, and this one doesn't quite reach it (even if it predated it by several years). Still, there is much to commend it, and it's worth a read for anyone serious enough about writing to be open to opinions that fall somewhat outside the mainstream.

  • Sheila
    2019-04-28 06:00

    You have to give credit to a writer who could bench press 200 pounds. This is an interesting and sometimes amusing memoir of a white working class woman who got involved in the antiwar and anti-racist struggles of the 60's and later went on to become a best selling author. I happen to be watching a compelling documentary called "Bastards of the Party," about the history of the Black Panther Party, the CRIPS and the Bloods. It reminds me that white writers like Brown were able to live in a parallel universe despite their radical ideas. This universe is a place where real writers, Brown points out, must learn Latin and read Cicero if they hope to produce anything worthwhile. Thus despite her progressive sympathies, Brown adds a brick to the Eurocentric Wall that excludes writers of color and Indigenous writers - a Wall that is still under construction and may soon be built even higher.

  • Susan
    2019-04-27 06:03

    Rita Mae lost me when she claimed in chapter one that if you weren't willing to learn to read Latin you would never make it as a writer. I took 3 years of high school Latin. I wanted to be a journalist and thought Latin would provide a language base for me to jump off of some day. Barabara Walters was the only available role model. But really I yearned to be more Christine Amanpour, except that she didn't exist when I was a girl. Regardless of high school goals, I have never regretted studying Latin. But as a requirement for writing?.....makes you go, "Hmmmmm." "I believe we often disguise pain through ritual and it may be the only solace we have."

  • Glen Engel-Cox
    2019-05-05 08:46

    This is an excellent writer's manual in many ways--I particularly enjoyed the emphasis on reading classics for "what works," the reasoning behind why a writer should know Latin, among others--even while it is totally inappropriate in others--things such as the unrealistic expectations based on Brown's own successes and her failure to understand genres, especially science fiction, fantasy and mystery. Still, the annotated reading list in the back is amazing for the simple fact that you have a hard time imagining that one person could read all of it, and yet it challenges you to give it a go. So I shall.This would be an excellent book to re-read in a few years.

  • Theresa
    2019-05-21 03:56

    This book is like a broad overview of how writing was taught in the 1980s. A lot of pet theories from that time period (study languages, study classics) doesn't necessarily hold up over time. That is, there may be some value to a writer in doing these things, but if all you ever read and study is 16th century poetry, your writing might ultimately reflect that. If you're writing for publication, you might be better off studying what's published now and learning the techniques used to reach today's readers. That said, some of the advice is timeless -- avoid passive writing, leverage the power of verbs, mind your health. Read it for these chapters.

  • Nathaniel
    2019-05-07 08:04

    What I would tell people to really take away from this book is not necessarily what Brown states on writing. I don't really whople-heartedly agree with her advice there. However, her advice on living a healthy emotional life while being a writer is something unique to the genre, and advice any writer could benefit from. Also, her sardonic, quirky humor and no-nonsense tone make the book a wondrous read.

  • Mary Shafer
    2019-05-10 03:09

    I've had this manual since it came out, and have gone through at least three copies because I keep giving it away to my own writing students. I think the chapter on the subjunctive is just about the best description of this tense I've ever read. I still reach for it occasionally on my own writer's shelf, and still recommend it to aspiring authors (just did so last month to a consulting client in fact!).

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-16 10:00

    It was written in 1988 and feels dated. It is one long rant and lacks humor. Reading this feels like being trapped in some old person's living room as they shout their opinions at you. Some of her opinions are strange. Maybe it would help to know her work. I am going to stop reading, mainly because I resist the her assertion that her way is the only way. Not a fun or inspiring read.

  • Mandi
    2019-04-25 10:00

    I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, mostly because I think it is very outdated and secondly because the other mostly talks about herself and doesn't really offer any concrete advice. However, my mom read it back when she wanted to write so I was interested in finishing it. It wasn't completely bad, it just wasn't helpful.

  • Julie H.
    2019-04-20 05:03

    I found her advice--and particularly the tone--way too preachy to be helpful. There are many paths to the well, but Ms. Brown seems to see her particular route as the only correct one. For someone whose characters--both human and non-human--are so very perceptive, I was quite disappointed by Ms. Brown's short-sightedness.

  • Silas
    2019-05-06 09:06

    I'm upping this book from four stars to five. Although I don't agree with everything in it (a colossal reading list that doesn't include Raymond Carver!) there are enough gems scattered throughout the book to make it comparable to John Gardner's The Art of Fiction and Charles Baxter's Burning Down the House.

  • JP
    2019-05-16 10:02

    Good ideas and she backs up her haughty, contemporary attitude with a firm foundation in the classics and literature. I might not agree with some of the political jibes interspersed, but she knows how to write and puts most of those with similar views to shame.

  • Elaine
    2019-05-19 04:53

    This is one of the most helpful books I've read on the craft of writing. One piece of advice (out of many) that will stuck with me: the strongest verbs are the ones that decline mid-word, not at the ending. You can skip the chapter on using a typewriter, of course. :-)

  • Marilyn Owem
    2019-05-15 04:54

    I loved this book and read it many years ago. It gets to the bottom of clear and concise writing. Tells you how to make your writing more immediate by taking out the past tense when it's not necessary.I often read it just for a refresher course.

  • John Sorensen
    2019-05-15 08:01

    I was interested in learning about writing. She has a very quick wit, and has an amazing way with words. I enjoyed her non-sugar-coated, straight from the gut presentation of various issues and topics related to writing.

  • C.J. Prince
    2019-04-23 06:47

    One of my favorite writing books! Gives a fabulous list of books revealing the evolution of the English language at the end.

  • Maureen
    2019-05-03 05:57

    Includes a very good reading list for writers.

  • Megan
    2019-05-17 06:03


  • Martha
    2019-04-21 07:48

    great practical writing advice not seen elsewhere; aimed at those wishing to have career in writing

  • Terry Michaels
    2019-04-29 02:00

    I did not mean to choose this book. Never heard of it. I don't know how to remove it from my list. Help!

  • Andrew Bockhorst
    2019-05-07 03:05

    Stayed with her as long as I could, through the primary colored prose and the grating condescension to male writers. That, and the writing excercises seemed uninspired. Next.

  • John Cleland
    2019-05-07 07:41

    This is one of the books that helped inspire a period of freelance writing back in the 1990s, although I ultimately returned to my original career. I've been a fan of Rita Mae Brown since.